Arikok National Park
A Park With Hidden Secrets
Arikok National Park, which holds 18% of the island, sits on a triangle of land between Boca Prins
and San Fuego.
It has several
easy trails that are well laid out and easy to follow. Also, petroglyphs are
still evident on some of the rocks.
The island's highest points, Mt. Arikok (577 feet)
and Mt. Jamanota (617 feet), are inside the park. A
small garden at the foot of the mountain (hill, really) displays most
of the trees and shrubs common to Aruba .
The park also contains several animals endemic to
Aruba: the Aruba island rattlesnake, Aruba cat-eyed snake, Aruban whiptail
lizard, Aruban burrowing owl and Aruban parakeet.
Arikok's most interesting feature are its caves in the area known as
the Seroe Colorado and north along the coast,
all easy walking if you have a light and stay on the main path.
Go wandering off into the darkness and you could step into a pothole
and twist your ankle.
Flashlights sometimes are provided by guides or vendors
at the cave mouths but you'd be wise to bring your own. Admission to
the caves is free.
near Boca Prins is perhaps the most interesting. Enter the large
chamber with natural pillars at the entrance to a cavern and tunnel
with Indian paintings.
This is the largest of Aruba 's caves. There was a
rumor these Indian paintings may not be real, but were painted by a
film company a number of years ago. Park officials can prove the Indian
drawings are originals.
They point out the drawings were first documented
in 1836 by a protestant minister named Bosch. Between
1870 and 1886, Father A.J. van Koolwijk collected a great number of
antiquities which came into possession of the National Museum of Antiquities
in Leiden. His manuscript on the Indian pictographs from Aruba was considered
lost, until it was discovered by Maritza Coomans-Eustatia, and published
Another document dating from 1890, by Alphonse Pinart,
also detailed information on the Amerindian rock drawings on the island.
Modern studies also indicate the drawings are originals, and from a
pre-historic period. (Special thanks to Dilma Arends on the Arikok Park
staff for this detailed clarification on the authenticity of the drawings.)
The Guadiriki Caves contain two large chambers
lit by sunlight coming through an opening. The chambers are connected
by a tunnel that may require a light because the passageway often turns
into a shadow world. Bats live in this cave system, but none on the
island are infected with rabies.
The Huliba Cave,
also known as the Tunnel of Love, is a commercial cave that is explored
primarily in darkness. You have to really, really like caves to venture into
this one. I didn't consider it worth the hefty admission fee.
Arikok Park is open daily 8am-5pm with last ticket sold at 3pm. Fee $8 per person, children under 17 free. Guided hikes available. The cost is 11 per person. Under 17 free. Website
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